After spending nearly two weeks in paradise it was unfortunately time for me to return to the busy city for a night. I was hoping I could match up my flight times and spend only a few hours at the airport but no such luck. After a series of extremely lucky, weird-how-things-turn-out-for-the-best, events I found myself in a lovely hotel room near the Mactan-Cebu airport.
Let me explain: after our first taste of Cebu I wasn't exactly jumping at the chance to trek back into the city for the end of my vacation - talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Instead I decided to search and book a cheap room on Mactan Island, closer to the airport. I found a place called the Anthurium Inn on Agoda and after reading reviews decided it was a good choice for the price (~500php). On the way to Coron airport I met Jan and his three friends, all locals of Cebu, and spent a good deal of time talking to them and sharing travel stories. We parted ways after boarding the plane but found each other again soon after landing. None of them had heard of this Anthurium Inn and even after googling it weren't familiar with the location.
I think Jan felt a bit sorry for me being alone and venturing off into the unknown, so he offered to drive me there himself. This was one of those 'go with your gut' scenarios but I definitely felt a lot more comfortable in the passenger seat of Jan's car than the back of a Cebu cab. So off we go into the crazy streets of Cebu, just in time for the start of rush hour. We started getting farther and farther from the airport, turning down less traveled roads at which point Jan started giving me shit about my planning. "Does your mom know where you are right now, i'm going to send her pictures" "Where did you find this place" "No seriously, who wrote those reviews, these people are good businessmen". Well we eventually pulled up to the lovely Inn - conveniently located almost 15 minutes from the airport down a dodgy dirt road.
Jan pulled a U-turn to bring us up in front of the hotel, almost came to a stop as he said "Are you really going to stay there" and then just kept driving. I laughed as said "umm I guess not, are you not allowing it?" Honestly I don't think he could have had a better response, "Hell no I'm not allowing it, you were last seen with me, so tomorrow when you turn up missing they're gonna check CCTV and i'll have cops coming to knock on my door! I'll take you to a better place". So we backtracked our steps down the dirt roads, local markets, and congested streets until we reached the Island Stays Hotel.
Jan accompanied me inside to check that they had rooms, which they did - only problem being the only option left was the most expensive room at 1,950php. I have a credit card and would've paid it, just to be settled somewhere, but as I took out my wallet Jan says "Don't worry i'll pay". After I picked my jaw up off the floor I asked why to which he simply replied "umm a gesture of kindness", he also mentioned that he was sorry he couldn't invite me to dinner because he had to be back to the airport to pick up his aunt. As if the Philippines didn't give me enough reasons to return (stay tuned) going back to repay Jan is one more to add to the list. Seriously how do I get so lucky as to meet such wonderful people - my friend Loudine said I must have been stockpiling some good Karma!
I literally spent my last [friday] night in the hotel room, watching TV and honestly, it was perfect. Having to be back in the city, after two weeks of awesomeness, a bag of dirty clothes and lack of comfort I couldn't have asked for anything else. I really appreciated my nice hotel room the next morning, when I awoke to buckets of rain, I can't complain too much though because the rain did hold off while I was enjoying the islands. After an amazing shower, some hotel-room-yoga, and lounging, I faced the rain for one last meal before making my way to the airport (where of course I'd end up sitting for hours thanks to delays).
Over 7,500 islands of pure bliss. I've been twice, both times arriving with a "what am I doing here" hesitation, but weeks later resisting my departure. Forget about being on time, or eating lots of vegetables, but welcome beautiful sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and welcoming, friendly locals.